Welcome to Montreal Barack Obama

Dear President Obama,

We are pleased that you are coming to visit us in Montreal. I thought I would take a moment to give you a little background on what to expect. We live in an officially French-speaking province in a country that is officially bilingual; French and English. But at street-level most Montrealers get by just fine in a variety of languages and dialects. But please do not tell anyone, we like to keep that a bit of a secret.

In fact, given this cultural adjustment, it may well be the first time in a long time that you, Mr. President, find yourself the most conservative politician in a room.

Our political views run the gamut – left to right and everything in between. However keep in mind that up here everything is shifted just a wee bit to the left. In fact, given this cultural adjustment, it may well be the first time in a long time that you, Mr. President, find yourself the most conservative politician in a room.

This year the City of Montreal celebrates its 375th anniversary while Canada marks its 150 birthday. You may notice, as you are whisked about the city, many streets closed-off for various festivities. You may therefore be tempted to think that these people are putting on quite a party for their anniversaries, but in fact things are like this most summers in Montreal. It’s a long winter so we tend to make the most of summer. Coming back for the Jazz Festival?

It is my understanding that the United States Secret Service is responsible for your safety. I strongly suggest you make certain they have the absolute most up-to-date GPS information in their vehicles We have been known to have construction related detours with their very own detours! Not that your motorcade will get stuck in traffic what with police escorts and all, but when you send a trusted Agent out for a snack or a pack of smokes, he or she may become enmeshed in our annual Festival of the Construction Cones.

… should you notice a police officer wearing a bright red baseball cap, bullet-proof vest, and shocking pink camouflage pants please take no notice. Labour disputes can take some odd forms here

I have a hunch the local police assigned to your visit may be in full uniform – at least if the mayor has his way – but should you notice a police officer wearing a bright red baseball cap, bullet-proof vest, and shocking pink camouflage pants please take no notice. Labour disputes can take some odd forms here. But let’s face it, cammo pants are a whole lot better that a police strike.

On the topic of food, no doubt there will be calls for you to be photographed eating poutine, bagels or smoked meat. Try to avoid these kitschy shots. Montreal has a wide range of restaurants serving great meals from all over the world, Perhaps a photo at a Latin American cafe might fit the bill. Or better yet, skip the whole photo nonsense entirely and have a quiet meal brought in.

In closing let me welcome you to Montreal. I hope you enjoy whatever time you have here, I believe you will find you are much admired in my city. As for your successor, well, perhaps the less said the better, after all, we are having a party!

DCMontreal – Deegan Charles Stubbs – is a Montreal writer born and raised who likes to establish balance and juxtapositions; a bit of this and a bit of that, a dash of Yin and a soupçon of Yang, some Peaks and an occasional Frean and maybe a bit of a sting in the tail! Please follow DCMontreal on Twitter and on Facebook, and add him on Google+

Montreal Irish Community Has Old Sod Pulled Out From Under Them

In the late 1840s Ireland was in the throes of what has become known as the Great Potato Famine. Though what was so great about it is a mystery to me. Sadly many were forced to leave the Old Sod and head off for new lives in New York, Boston, Philadelphia and, Montreal. That sounds much easier than it was.

More than 6000 Irish migrants died in these sheds. Subsequently workers who were erecting the Victoria Bridge came upon a mass grave. To this day the ground is considered sacred by Montreal’s vibrant Irish community.

Passage was hardly cruise ship style and many died en route, having contracted typhus. So horrific was the loss of life that the vessels came to be known as coffin ships, their human cargo unloaded and moved to hastily built fever sheds.  

More than 6000 Irish migrants died in these sheds. Subsequently workers who were erecting the Victoria Bridge came upon a mass grave. In 1859 a large monument, the Irish Commemorative Stone, known more commonly if less creatively as  Black Rock, was set in place to commemorate the nameless victims.  

To this day the ground is considered sacred by Montreal’s vibrant Irish community. Every spring there is a march from St. Gabriel’s parish to the Black Rock to pay respect to the victims there buried and ensure their memory survives.

There is a piece of land, a green space, located very close to the rock that all three levels of government informally promised to the Irish community as a memorial park to which the Rock could be moved. Currently the rock is located on a median between two lanes of traffic making access tricky at best, and downright dangerous at worst. However recently it was announced that Hydro Quebec had bought the land to build a power station for a transit system project.

As for building a power station on land abutting a mass grave of Irish immigrants, I believe the potential for banshees and Little People to cause construction havoc is great.

Not surprisingly Montreal’s Irish feel they have been betrayed and scammed and are making a kerfuffle about it. On a couple of occasions city mayor Denis Coderre, who was this year’s St. Patrick’s Day parade Grand Marshall, promised to “champion” the park project.

Calling Mayor Coderre.

Perhaps hizzoner has a trick up his sleeve to make things right. Or it may be too late. The annual march is this Sunday. They say hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, but I’ve got to think that a community of Irish descendants who feel scorned by some old sod may just cause some grief.

As for building a power station on land abutting a mass grave of Irish immigrants, I believe the potential for banshees and Little People to cause construction havoc is great. To say nothing of problems over the years to come.

DCMontreal – Deegan Charles Stubbs – is a Montreal writer born and raised who likes to establish balance and juxtapositions; a bit of this and a bit of that, a dash of Yin and a soupçon of Yang, some Peaks and an occasional Frean and maybe a bit of a sting in the tail! Please follow DCMontreal on Twitter and on Facebook, and add him on Google+

Armed Forces and Citizens: Canada and Venezuela

DCMontreal – Deegan Charles Stubbs – is a Montreal writer born and raised who likes to establish balance and juxtapositions; a bit of this and a bit of that, a dash of Yin and a soupçon of Yang, some Peaks and an occasional Frean and maybe a bit of a sting in the tail! Please follow DCMontreal on Twitter and on Facebook, and add him on Google+

Quebec Floods, Airlines and Price Gouging

Adrian Wyld/CP

The current flooding in Quebec has provoked the Mayor of Montreal, Denis Coderre, to declare a State of Emergency to be put into effect in several areas of the island. It sounds very imposing, but what exactly does the SoE mean?

According to the CBC:

The Emergency Management Act gives authorities the power to move quickly to centralize and co-ordinate responses.

It allows authorities:

• to force evacuations of buildings.

• enter buildings without a warrant.

• to prevent stores and commercial businesses from hiking up prices of goods and services.

Not just at small Mom-and-Pop establishments, but big-box stores have been cutting the price of sump pumps and generators to give folks a bit of a break.

I was pleased to read the last point as one does hear of the occasional bit of price gouging when these things happen. I must point out however that this time I have only heard of prices being slashed. Not just at small Mom-and-Pop establishments, but big-box stores have been cutting the price of sump pumps and generators to give folks a bit of a break.

This humane approach can also be seen at Thanksgiving and Christmas when airlines, faced with vast numbers of people trying to get home, reduce their prices to accommodate the hoards.

Ha! When pigs fly!

Airlines jack-up their prices during high-season and consider it a wise business move; to pursue greater profits. They swindle their customers in the name of profit. Surely the increase in volume would lead to a better bottom line without causing undue financial strain on clients. I think I will begin to lobby the government to declare the holiday season a State of Emergency thereby keeping the airlines from fleecing travellers. Wanna sign on?

DCMontreal – Deegan Charles Stubbs – is a Montreal writer born and raised who likes to establish balance and juxtapositions; a bit of this and a bit of that, a dash of Yin and a soupçon of Yang, some Peaks and an occasional Frean and maybe a bit of a sting in the tail! Please follow DCMontreal on Twitter and on Facebook, and add him on Google+

Quebec Flooding and Politicians’ Photo Ops

Canadian PM Justin Trudeau fills sandbag. But is more effective providing resources.

There are several areas in Canada that are suffering spring flooding, but none worse than the south-western part of the Province of Quebec including parts of the island of Montreal. For the first time in twenty years a Montreal mayor – Denis Coderre –  has declared a State of Emergency. I have family members who are struggling mightily to save their house which is usually located some 100 feet from the water’s edge, but is currently on the cusp of the water cresting and coming over the sandbags.

By all means visit the flood victims, tell them you are with them, but do not use their plight as a photo-op for next election’s campaign bumpf!

The combination of a major late snowfall and more rain than has ever been experienced in April around here has caused rivers to expand exponentially.

The Canadian armed forces have been deployed to assist with evacuation efforts, as well as attempts to build sufficient sandbag dikes to ward off rising waters and provide temporary shelter.

I am not near water so I have been spared, but from what I have watched on the 24-hour news coverage there is, so far, little complaint about what is being done to help. This may all change once the emergency has been dealt with, but it appears there is a sense of appreciation at this point.

The water is usually about 100 feet from this house.

What irks me is when politicians, elected officials, visit the scene of devastation to survey the situation and just can’t seem to leave without a shot of them filling sandbags. By all means visit the flood victims, tell them you are with them, but do not use their plight as a photo-op for next election’s campaign bumpf!

That’s why we elect leaders, to use the tools of government to alleviate problems, not tools such as shovels and sandbags.

Unless you are going to stick around and fill a couple of hundred sandbags, please don’t take advantage of shovel and bag to appear to be helping out physically. I like both Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Minister of Canadian Heritage Mélanie Joly. But both have been guilty of the photo-op I mention. A much better idea would be to issue a statement indicating that they are concerned, staying out of the way for now, and busily sending appropriate resources to the area.

That’s why we elect leaders, to use the tools of government to alleviate problems, not tools such as shovels and sandbags.

DCMontreal – Deegan Charles Stubbs – is a Montreal writer born and raised who likes to establish balance and juxtapositions; a bit of this and a bit of that, a dash of Yin and a soupçon of Yang, some Peaks and an occasional Frean and maybe a bit of a sting in the tail! Please follow DCMontreal on Twitter and on Facebook, and add him on Google+

Montreal’s Venezuelan Community Calls for Peace and Democracy

No More Murder, No More Dictatorship

Last Sunday my wife and I attended a Mass in an east-end Montreal church with a large Latino congregation. The service was a special one in that the theme was the current unrest in Venezuela.

The church was crowded, standing room only. There could be no doubt that the vast majority of those in attendance were of Venezuelan origin; flags, national ball caps, traditional dresses, and vinotinto soccer shirts were everywhere.

I have been to several services in Latino churches and never cease to be impressed by the vibrancy of the worshippers. Having been brought up in an Irish Catholic household it is always a wonderful surprise to hear upbeat music being played loudly and including drums …. drums in a church! Being used to the more sombre pipe organ, the Latino Mass, not to be confused with a Latin Mass, is a breath of fresh air.

Yet last Sunday’s Mass had its fair share of sombre moments. At one point the celebrating priest called all Venezuelans to come up and stand on the altar. My wife opted to remain in our pew and video the gathering. There must have been two hundred people of all ages standing there, some holding signs bearing the names of those recently killed in the Caracas protests. Then the band started playing and a woman with a lovely strong voice began to sing a much-loved song called Venezuela. This song was written not by a Venezuelan,  but by Spaniards  Pablo Herrero Ibarz and José Luis Armenteros Sánchez who had fallen in love with the South American country.

The tears started to flow as the song went on and those Venezuelans standing on an altar in Montreal thought about the violent turmoil in their country and feared for loved ones back home. The usually spirited members of the congregation made their way back to their pews obviously deeply moved by the experience.

Following the Mass many gathered in a park across the street from the church for a photo op. Using a drone the word NO+  (no mas – no more) was spelled out by those who braved the unseasonably cool and wet weather. No more murder, no more dictatorship. They want to once again feel they have control of their country.

Sadly there was no media coverage of the event.

DCMontreal – Deegan Charles Stubbs – is a Montreal writer born and raised who likes to establish balance and juxtapositions; a bit of this and a bit of that, a dash of Yin and a soupçon of Yang, some Peaks and an occasional Frean and maybe a bit of a sting in the tail! Please follow DCMontreal on Twitter and on Facebook, and add him on Google+

President Trump: Impeach and Imprison

Bob Woodward, left, talks with Carl Bernstein during the White House Correspondents’ Dinner in Washington, Saturday, April 29, 2017. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)

There is a poll out that illustrates how some 96% of people who voted for Donald Trump last November would do so again. This seems to be interpreted as a positive sign for the President, but it occurs to me that he has lost 4% of his base. When your own constituency is eroding, even as slowly as this, it cannot be a good thing. Perhaps in light of President Trump’s disastrous first 100 days it is surprising that not more people have had their eyes opened.

Not only did he not attend the dinner, thereby reducing the honour bestowed upon the young scholarship winners who would normally meet the president, but he held a campaign-like rally in Pennsylvania in direct opposition to the WHCD

On Saturday night the annual White House Correspondents’ Dinner (WHCD) was held in Washington. The event is a fundraiser for young journalism students as well as an opportunity to present awards to several working journalists. Traditionally the president uses the dinner to humorously, good-naturedly skewer the various media outlets in attendance.

Unfortunately the current president is in a snit when it comes to the media. Not only did he not attend the dinner, thereby reducing the honour bestowed upon the young scholarship winners who would normally meet the president, but he held a campaign-like rally in Pennsylvania in direct opposition to the WHCD. In a long line of childish exploits, this may have been the most infantile. He spent the first ten minutes of his speech insulting the media. Carl Bernstein called it the most “venomous” speech he had ever heard by a president. Much like a child who has fallen out with a classmate and refuses to go to his birthday party, Trump revelled in his belief that by not being at the dinner, the event was doomed to fail.  

How long will Americans put up with an allegedly duly elected president who on a daily basis demeans the Oval Office? How long will Americans continue to allow this buffoon to sully the reputation of the presidency?

How long will Americans put up with an allegedly duly elected president who on a daily basis demeans the Oval Office? How long will Americans continue to allow this buffoon to sully the reputation of the presidency? To incite violence at his rallies by urging police to ‘get him outta here’ when a protester dissents? How many more rallies will Americans foot the bill for so the thin-skinned President can energize his batteries by having a roomful of morons cheer on his inane actions?

I believe that contrary to some, Trump backers and not, who call for the media to ‘give him a chance’, it is incumbent upon journalists to call him out loudly whenever he lies or misleads. I can understand someone in a new job getting a chance, but you don’t get a chance to be president. It’s not Celebrity Apprentice. It’s not golf, there are no Mulligans. Much as Bernstein and  Bob Woodward did with Watergate, reporters must dig up and expose Trumps foolishness even if they are frustrated by so many Americans refusing to believe irrefutable evidence.

Trump is keen on slogans and chants: lock her up, build the wall, repeal and replace. The time has come for sane folks to take up the banner. I suggest impeach and imprison, but only because I’m too nice to suggest Impeach and Impale!

DCMontreal – Deegan Charles Stubbs – is a Montreal writer born and raised who likes to establish balance and juxtapositions; a bit of this and a bit of that, a dash of Yin and a soupçon of Yang, some Peaks and an occasional Frean and maybe a bit of a sting in the tail! Please follow DCMontreal on Twitter and on Facebook, and add him on Google+